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American Council of the Blind
Any of you who have access to the internet will probably have heard more than you ever wanted to know about a proposal to change the vending program that has come to dominate our list recently and has also created a good deal of controversy. I could spend this whole message discussing this matter, but choose not to do that.
I am not prepared to devote much space to this subject because I believe that it is truly not an issue any more. I also do not choose to give it much attention because it is one of those cases where a very simple principle has been hedged about with so much irrelevant verbiage and wanton attack that the principle itself has all but disappeared. Just so everybody knows what this is about, let me very briefly outline the issue. Robert Humphreys, former commissioner of RSA and a long-time advocate for vendors and the vending program, created a non-profit corporation and has met with senators from the appropriations committee to see if funds could be allocated that would allow that corporation to implement vending partnerships with industry to create franchises. The exact details still aren't clear and really don't matter. The National Federation of the Blind issued a statement, as did I, on this subject. Both statements objected to the methods Humphreys used and both the NFB and the ACB called on the staffers from the Senate offices involved to not act on the proposal. In the face of this united consumer demand, there was little question that the proposal would be withdrawn by the Senate offices and it was. The reason has nothing to do with the merits of the proposal. If anybody were attempting to make policy for blind people rather than involving the organizations of people who are blind in the process of making policy for ourselves, he or she would have suffered the same fate. We are long past the time when blind people will let anybody decide what is best for us.
That is the principle that is involved and it's not one I will ever willingly see violated. Unfortunately, as so often seems to happen, what should have been a simple and even a quiet exercise in correcting an error became a war of words. Personalities were vilified. There was a lot of name-calling and, for my part, I am heartily sick of it all. Let us judge actions, not people! I am convinced that Robert Humphreys would not choose to do what he did again! I am satisfied that he has made myriad contributions to vendors over the years. I am saddened that this issue has become an exercise in character assassination and ACB and I will not be parties to any more of that. I should say here, for the record, that I have issued two statements on this matter as president of ACB, and our position as expressed in both of those documents has mirrored what I have said here. ACB is committed to the protection and expansion of the vending program, and that is what we will focus our attention on. Those from both sides who feel the need to attack people and organizations over this are wasting a lot of hurting for nothing. I for one intend to get on with the business of ACB and put this whole issue behind me.
One consequence of this issue, though, was a visit made by Brian Charlson and I to the National Federation of the Blind in Baltimore to discuss future cooperation. The results of that meeting, overall, were positive. I think there is value in communication and President Marc Maurer and I frankly discussed several issues on which we disagree and many on which we did agree. I continue to believe that both organizations have an obligation to the community of blind people to try, whenever possible, to speak with one voice. One immediate consequence of our meeting was an agreement that we would meet again before our conventions next year at a site to be agreed upon later. I believe ongoing dialogue with the NFB is healthy and hope that it will serve to make the vending fiasco we are going through not happen in the future. I believe that this issue could have and should have been handled quietly and said so to Maurer. The only thing we accomplish by people-bashing is to convince those who do not know better that we have lost sight of issues and are intent on tearing each other apart instead. I believe that only helps those who would weaken the blind consumer movement. If there is information that I believed Maurer needed to have about someone with whom he was associated, I would pass that on to him quietly so that he could determine how best to use it. It is my hope that he will do the same for me. I would also urge those who are minded to join the name-calling fray from our side to ask themselves what it will accomplish. Let us stop wasting our time on a proposal that is dead and work on issues that are alive and well and needing effort.
And now I am going to take my own advice and drop this issue and move on to two final announcements. For those who were not at the convention and don't have access to real audio and so haven't yet listened to our convention on our web page, let me tell you that as of September 1st, ACB has begun to operate its first shared-time position. Our membership and affiliate services position is now held by Billie Jean Keith, our former BOP chair, and Barbara Hayes, our current convention information desk coordinator. Both of these ladies bring a wealth of knowledge about ACB to this position and I hope that many of you will have a chance to talk with them as time goes on.
I think that everyone in ACB knows that we have been seeking a new executive director. The search committee operated all summer and the work that they did was done well. We had 10 candidates, five of whom we interviewed by telephone. That led us to a list of three candidates whom we interviewed in person in Washington, D.C. in late August. While the committee worked with me, their job was to make a recommendation to the president. It was my job to make the offer to the candidate and then seek to have my decision confirmed by the board of directors. I called a telephone conference call of our board on Sept. 8, and they unanimously confirmed Charles Crawford as ACB's next executive director.
You will hear much more about this choice over the months to come. For now let me just say that Charlie is currently commissioner for services to people who are blind in the commonwealth of Massachusetts. It will be several weeks before he can assume his duties with us. He attended the September board meeting in Chicago. I am overjoyed that Charlie has agreed to work for us. He brings a wealth of experience and a commitment of advocacy and excellence to his new job. I hope that all of you will join me in offering him our warm welcome! I also hope that all of you will join me in thanking Oral Miller for his many years of dedicated service to this organization as he changes roles within ACB.
A reality of modern legislation relating to disability issues is that, whether we like it or not, legislators now insist on hearing the concerns of all disabled people when dealing with broad topics such as education, rehabilitation, Social Security and health care, transportation, etc. This means, again whether we like it or not, it is necessary to work in coalition with other disability organizations, always keeping in mind that we know best the needs of blind and visually impaired people. For several years the American Council of the Blind has been a member of the Consortium of Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), a loose coalition made up of many disability organizations and divided into committees or working groups dealing with specific topics. Even a casual glance at the master calendar in the ACB national office shows, as it did for the past month, participation of staff members in the meetings of various committees such as the education task force, the transportation rights committee and the Social Security task force. People who object to ACB participation in any cross-disability activities should remember also that such participation is the best way to stay abreast of what other organizations are saying, doing and planning. ACB's newly installed director of advocacy services, Melanie Brunson, has, in the few weeks she has been on board, become involved in CCD activities, as well as those involving blindness-oriented advocacy vehicles such as the Legislative Working Group.
What do calls to ACB deal with?
In describing the activities of the ACB national staff, we often say that the office receives questions dealing with an unbelievable variety of topics. Although the volume of calls received requires every staff member to provide information on many different subjects, a quick glance at my own incoming call record may be interesting. Some of the topics I've dealt with myself included the provision of technical assistance to a private practicing attorney representing a blind person with a job discrimination problem, food stamp and other benefit eligibility, alternative manuals for phone systems, visitation by foreign guests, provision of technical assistance to affiliates regarding the preparation of grant proposals, voice indexing of recorded material, preparation of public service announcements, discrimination by physicians, accessible telecommunications equipment, job accommodation needs, national convention preparations, affiliate membership development activities, amendment of Amateur Sports Act, restructuring of state agencies, possible fundraising proposals to ACB, teaching of braille, unincurred expenses and SSDI, specialized services, housing for disabled, eligibility for international education programs, free matter mail service and the list goes on and on. No, it is not possible to have a staff specialist dealing with each of these topics, and, no, it is not feasible to hold many of these calls for later reply or referral to other sources of information. In short, the American Council of the Blind is a source of information to the membership and the general public on an incredibly varied number of subjects and I take this opportunity to commend the staff members for the outstanding job they are doing. After hearing even this partial list of topics, you can understand why a staff member's voice mail box may occasionally be filled or it is not possible for him or her to call you back within the very narrow time frame you specify.
Many ACB members have asked me what I plan to do following the conclusion of my duties as executive director of ACB. As you will recall from the announcement which I published in "The Braille Forum" earlier this year, I will continue to perform my duties as executive director for approximately six weeks after my successor, Charles H. Crawford of Massachusetts, has started work in the ACB national office. Thereafter and pursuant to a contract with ACB, I will be performing advocacy, public information and education, legislative monitoring, program planning and other services intended to increase and enhance sports and recreational opportunities for blind and visually impaired people. Several years ago ACB received a substantial bequest that was to be used for such purposes and according to very specific guidelines set out by the donors, one of whom I had known for many years. Of course, I intend to remain active in ACB and probably will become even more active in some areas in which it has not been possible for me to be active during recent years. I also plan to remain active as a volunteer officer with the United States Association of Blind Athletes and the International Blind Sports Association inasmuch as those activities will interface very effectively and beneficially with my ACB duties. Some of the other things which I hope to do eventually as time and resources permit will include the substantial improvement of my computer and related skills (but not to the point that such communication takes me out of the invaluable personal contact I have enjoyed with ACB members and friends for so many years), both voluntary and professional advocacy on selected issues, both voluntary and professional consulting on non-profit organizational and programmatic matters, return to a more vigorous physical lifestyle and level of physical conditioning, increased participation in various international exchange programs for the blind, more reading and travel for leisure and educational purposes, and more time with family and friends.
Both my wife, Roberta Douglas, and I want to acknowledge and thank everyone for their concern, good wishes and prayers following Roberta's recent and very serious neurosurgery. The surgery was successful and she is now at home in the midst of a lengthy recovery before returning to work and her usually busy schedule of varied activities.
New staff on board and busy
As a follow-up to announcements published in recent months, I am pleased to announce that Melanie Brunson, formerly of California, assumed her duties as ACB's director of advocacy services a few weeks ago and "hit the ground a-running." The fact that she came in ready to work the first day is very impressive when considered along with the fact that she and her husband, who is also an attorney, had just finished driving across the USA in a motor home, which had serious transmission problems in New Mexico, and while towing their family automobile. I am confident that ACB members as well as members of the general public will enjoy and benefit from consulting with Melanie, whose soft-spoken but confident manner will be evident in providing the assistance sought. I am pleased to announce also that Billie Jean Keith and Barbara Hayes have come on board in jointly performing the very important position of coordinator of affiliate and membership services. While neither had to drive across the USA to take up their post because they both live in the Washington metropolitan area, they also inherited full if not overflowing in boxes full of the details that drive their position. Since both Billie Jean and Barbara are longtime ACB members and participants in many different programs, they bring an enormous amount of knowledge and skill to this position.
On Saturday, July 4, at 9 a.m., the ACB board convened its meeting, with all board members present. The board approved the minutes of the February 15-16, 1998 board meeting. The president, treasurer, executive director and editor gave brief reports on their activities.
John Horst presented a convention coordinator's report, which included last-minute details on arrangements for the Orlando convention. The 1999 convention will be held in Los Angeles. (See "The 1999 Convention," August issue.) The board also reviewed and accepted a proposal to hold the year 2000 ACB convention at the Galt House in Louisville, Ky. All convention attendees and activities will be under one roof.
The board adopted two new policy documents, one regarding communications, and the other regarding financial assistance. The communications policy outlines recommended methods of communication between elected officials and staff. The financial assistance policy establishes a program and procedures for providing financial assistance to ACB affiliates through grants and loans. This document, along with application information, will be sent directly to all affiliate presidents.
The board also voted to honor retiring Executive Director Oral Miller and his wife, Roberta Douglas, former ACB director of development, with life memberships in the American Council of the Blind. The life memberships were presented at the general sessions during convention week.
The July 4 board meeting then adjourned.
The post-convention board meeting began at 3 p.m. July 11. All board members were present including newly elected members Alan Beatty, Fort Collins, Colo.; Debbie Grubb, Bradenton, Fla.; and Sandy Sanderson, Anchorage, Alaska. Board members also included Pam Shaw and M.J. Schmitt, who were re-elected. Carol McCarl, board of publications chair, attended as ex-officio member.
President Paul Edwards' remarks began with comments regarding his meeting with the board of the Randolph-Sheppard Vendors of America. He reported that they unanimously voted to indicate to the NFB Merchants group that they are not interested in a merger. The RSVA board also "reaffirmed support for and involvement in ACB," with another unanimous motion.
Edwards described the beneficial meeting he had with other ACB representatives and First Vice President of the World Blind Union, Kicki Nordstrom of Stockholm, Sweden. He emphasized her enthusiasm for all she had learned this week in her contacts with ACB members at all levels, and in particular with the women's concerns committee.
Steve Speicher reported on the priority and implementation of 1998 resolutions, which will be distributed to board members and affiliate presidents as soon as they are received in the ACB office. Copies will be available upon request by calling the ACB office. A motion passed to instruct the convention committee to set guidelines for the sale of raffle tickets and products by individuals at conventions.
Dr. Otis Stephens, history committee chair, brought the board up to date with a progress report. "Dr. Megivern has committed to essentially recast this history, using much of what has already been done, but reorganizing the material and establishing a somewhat clearer focus," Stephens said. "He will also amplify some of the coverage of the middle and later years of ACB's history. He has committed to completing the first three revised chapters by the end of August. He will distribute that material to the committee as well as M.J. Schmitt, who had direct participation and observation of some events prior to the establishment and formation of the ACB. Jim will be teaching during the fall semester ... He will resume full-time attention to this history in December and has promised that he will have a full manuscript in draft form in our hands by no later than May 1, 1999."
Stephens concluded, "I would hope that we would be in a position to publish this book at some time during 1999, or at the very latest, at the beginning of the year 2000."
Carol McCarl reported that a guide for producing recorded newsletters has been completed by the BOP. It will be distributed to all affiliate presidents and affiliate newsletter editors in braille, large print, and on cassette. She reported that the board of publications is working with the membership committee in updating the ACB brochure. She requested the status of the ACB logo. The board learned that Cynthia Towers, board secretary, volunteered to contact a graphic artist friend of hers who has produced three designs. She will forward the design samples to the ACB office. They will be distributed to all members of the ACB board of directors and the board of publications.
McCarl concluded by saying that she will meet by conference call in August with Jay Doudna and new BOP members Winifred Downing, Charles Hodge, and Jenine Stanley. The main agenda item will be discussion of the ACB web site FAQ (frequently asked questions) wording.
"The Rights and Responsibilities of Affiliates" document was discussed at length. A motion passed to put it aside while the committee is being restructured.
One of the concluding remarks of the meeting was from Pamela Shaw who announced that the Honor Oral Miller Committee is presently planning an appropriate observance, which will occur in Washington, D.C. Many of Miller's friends and colleagues from agencies, organizations, and the U.S. Congress will want to celebrate with him. The details will be publicized when a date is established.
The board meeting ended with notice that the fall meeting will take place at the Radisson Hotel, Schaumburg, Ill., on September 19-20, 1998.
ORLANDO Members of the American Council of the Blind elected new members to the organization's board of directors and board of publications during convention ceremonies here in July.
"Elections are a time when we think of the contributions made by those who leave the board and board of publications," said Paul Edwards, president of the American Council of the Blind. "We are deeply indebted to the six men and women who served so well on the board of publications and board of directors. Their contributions have done much to help shape this organization and build its future."
On the board of directors, John Horst of Elizabethtown, Pa., had served as many consecutive terms as he could. In accordance with the constitution, he was not able to seek re-election. Richard Villa of Austin, Texas was not nominated by the nominating committee and chose not to seek re-election. Kristal Platt of Omaha, Neb. was eligible for another term, but chose not to seek re-election.
On the board of publications, Kim Charlson of Watertown, Mass., and Mitch Pomerantz of Los Angeles, Calif., were not eligible under the constitution to seek re-election.
Tom Mitchell of North Salt Lake City, Utah, who sought another two-year term on the board of publications, was defeated by Charles S.P. Hodge of Arlington, Va.
Winifred Downing of San Francisco, Calif. was elected to the board of publications by acclimation. Jenine Stanley of Columbus, Ohio was also elected without opposition.
Steve Dresser of West Hartford, Conn., and Jack Wheeler of Ogden, Utah spoke in behalf of Mitchell. Adrian deBlaey of Milwaukee, Wisc., and Michael Byington of Topeka, Kan., spoke in favor of Hodge in the one contested board of publications election.
Hodge received 564.7 votes; Mitchell garnered 494.3 votes. Hodge won with 53.32 percent of the vote.
For the board of directors seats, Pam Shaw of Philadelphia, Pa., was elected by acclimation, as was M.J. Schmitt of Forest Park, Ill.
Alan Beatty of Fort Collins, Colo., received the nod of the nominating committee. He was opposed by Deborah Grubb of Bradenton, Fla. Dr. John Buckley of Knoxville, Tenn., and Ray Campbell of Glen Ellyn, Ill., spoke in behalf of Beatty. Jenine Stanley of Columbus, Ohio and Gary LeGates of Westminster, Md., spoke in behalf of Grubb.
A total of 1,063.5 votes were cast. Beatty captured 586.4 votes; Grubb received 417.1 votes. Beatty won with a 55.14 percent majority.
Sandy Sanderson of Anchorage, Alaska had been nominated earlier in the week to fill one of the board of directors seats. He would ultimately take his place on the board, but he had to overcome opposition in the form of the candidacy of Michael Byington of Topeka, Kan.
Chris Gray of San Francisco, Calif., and Patricia Price of Indianapolis, Ind., spoke in favor of Sanderson. M.J. Schmitt of Forest Park, Ill., and Sanford Alexander of Wichita, Kan., spoke in behalf of Byington. A total of 898.5 votes were cast. Sanderson won 502 votes; Byington won 396.5. Sanderson won with 55.87 percent of the vote.
The final open board seat proved to be a real horse race. Charles Glaser of Atlanta, Ga., had been nominated by the nominating committee. Mike Smitherman of Jackson, Miss., and Deborah Grubb of Florida ran against Glaser. Michael Byington was nominated from the floor again, but declined the nomination.
John Horst of Elizabethtown, Pa., and Susan LaVenture of Watertown, Mass., spoke in behalf of Glaser. Donna Smith-Whitty of Jackson, Miss., and Carl McCoy of Tallahassee, Fla. spoke in Smitherman's behalf.
A total of 1,107.5 votes were cast. Glaser gained 246.5; Smitherman gained 351.5, and Grubb got 509.5 or 46 percent. Since there was no clear majority, Glaser was dropped from the election and a second round of balloting occurred.
A total of 932.5 votes were cast; Grubb gained 527.6; Smitherman garnered 404.9 votes. Grubb gained a 56.58 percent majority vote.
In 1999, the American Council of the Blind convention returns to Los Angeles. This time it is the Airport Westin Hotel, situated just a few minutes from the Los Angeles International Airport. The overflow hotel is the Airport Marriott, about four blocks from the Westin. These are both first class hotels which will do their best to accommodate all who come to Los Angeles for the 1999 convention.
What comes to mind when one says "Los Angeles": Hollywood, Beverly Hills, the Pacific Ocean, or Disneyland? These attractions are there, but L.A. has much more to offer. Recent major developments have made the city as important, varied and stimulating as any of the world's great urban communities. It has an exciting touch of Asia in addition to the long-standing influence of Mexico and Central America. More recently it has added the cultural diversity of a growing population of Filipinos, Vietnamese, Thais, Samoans, Togans, Cambodians and other Pacific Rim peoples. All this adds a new cultural scene to L.A. and makes it as attractive to visitors as any American city.
The 1999 convention will take place Saturday, July 3 to Friday, July 9. The Airport Westin Hotel, where all convention functions will take place, is located at 5400 W. Century Blvd., phone (310) 216-5858. Rates are $60 per night plus tax for up to four people per room. The Airport Marriott Hotel is at 5855 W. Century Blvd., phone (310) 641-5700, where rates are the same. These convention rates will apply two days before and two days after the convention.
Reservations can be made now for these hotels. As usual, a credit card number must be given or a check or money order must be sent to cover the payment of the first night of lodging. There is the additional requirement at the Westin that if you wish to have your room held for arrival after 6 p.m., the first night's lodging must be paid when your reservation is made. As usual, shuttles will operate between the two hotels. Both hotels provide free transportation from the airport.
Last year we tried to bring to the attention of people making reservations for the convention for themselves and others that they should be certain that the rooms included are used. In fact, we strongly discourage people from making reservations for others. In Houston in 1997, we experienced a serious difficulty with cancellations just days before the convention. As a result, a number of rooms at the convention hotel went unused. This situation became worse in 1998 at both the convention and overflow hotels. People who wanted to attend the convention stayed away because they were told there were no vacancies available at the convention rate; however, at the last minute rooms were available that went unused. We strongly advise that each person make a firm decision to attend the convention and make their own reservations to which they will be personally committed.
With the assistance of the California Council of the Blind, we are looking forward to a great convention in 1999.
The voice mail indicated that I had two messages. I was mildly surprised because it was late on the last day of the Orlando convention, and only a handful of ACB members remained in the hotel. The lobby was already filling with next week's convention attendees. The first message was from one of the scholarship winners who said, "I just wanted to thank you and ACB again for my scholarship. There is now more light in my life." The second message was from another student who, after expressing appreciation for her scholarship, added, "I think, no, I know my parents will find a different person than the one they put on the plane a week ago."
This year, ACB awarded 29 scholarships totaling approximately $60,000. Twenty of these students were able to attend the convention, and I had the privilege of introducing them during the Thursday general session.
Kaye Holmberg and Peter Ince are the winners of the Floyd Qualls Memorial Scholarships in the vocational category. Kaye, who lives in a rural Kansas community, is using a computer to take classes in medical transcription from the California College of Health Sciences. Peter is majoring in Japanese and cinema at Los Angeles City College and plans a career in Japanese entertainment law.
In the freshman category of the Qualls scholarships, the winners are Patrick Vogt and Ben Guenther. Patrick plans to attend the University of Missouri-Kansas City and major in business. Ben plans to study political science at Lawrence University in Wisconsin. Lucille Stern was the winner in the graduate category. Already the holder of one Ph.D., she is returning for a second Ph.D., this one in clinical psychology, a field she was discouraged from entering years before because of her vision.
The Melva T. Owen Memorial Scholarship goes to Terri Evans, a history major at Olivet College in Michigan. Prior to losing her vision, Terri owned and ran a racing stable for 15 years.
Brad Kadel is the recipient of the Mae Davidow Memorial Scholarship. He is studying for his Ph.D. in history at the University of Wisconsin.
Ana Aviles, a Ph.D. candidate in industrial engineering at Northwestern University, is the winner of the NIB Grant M. Mack Memorial Scholarship. In addition to working as a quality control engineer for Johnson and Johnson, she has been a research fellow with NASA.
The winner of the Arnold Ostwald Memorial Science Scholarship is Tiffany Wakefield, who is a freshman majoring in molecular biology and literature at Randolph Macon College in Virginia.
Jason Ackiss is the winner of the Kellie Cannon Memorial Scholarship. He was the valedictorian of his high school class, and is working on a degree in computer science from Gardner-Webb University in North Carolina.
This year marks the first year of the Dr. Nicholas DiCaprio Memorial Scholarship. The winner is Heidi Pfau, a human services major at Trinity College in Vermont. In addition to an outstanding academic record, Heidi is involved in a variety of activities outside the classroom. She is a member of a bridge club, an investment club, and a student in martial arts.
Jessica Rickabaugh and Debra DeWitt are the recipients of William G. Corey Memorial Scholarships. Jessica will be entering Swarthmore College in the fall, and plans to major in English and political science. Debra was raising a family when she lost her vision. She returned to get her GED and is now an elementary education major at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia.
Jonathan Avila, a computer science major at Mary Washington College, is the winner of the first annual Roy J. Ward- Commonwealth Council of the Blind Scholarship. In addition to being an officer in NABS, he has been an intern with NASA. Grayson Chinn, an entering biology major at the University of Virginia, received the other Commonwealth Council of the Blind Scholarship.
The Bay State Council of the Blind Scholarship winner is Darrell Harrison, a political science and economics major at the University of Massachusetts-Boston. He runs track for his college team and competed internationally over the summer.
The Oregon Council of the Blind Scholarship winner is Brooke Strand, an entering freshman studying drama and education at Portland State University.
The John Hebner Memorial Scholarship, given to an individual who is working full-time while attending school, goes to Linda Fugate. In addition to being active in her community, Linda has taught school while studying social sciences at Indiana University Southeastern.
Several winners were not able to be present in Orlando. They were: Elizabeth Castellano, a studio art major at Manhattanville College; Suleyman Gokyigit, a computer science and engineering major at the University of Toledo (Ohio); Monica Summitt, a global finance major at George Mason University; Nick Giudice, a psychology major at the University of Minnesota; Sarah Gales, an equine science major at Colorado State University; Melissa Weiser-Rose, an occupational therapy major at Colorado State University; Jim Powers, a human services major at the University of Maine-Augusta; Penny Reeder, a special education major at George Washington University; Dawn Flewwellin, a student at Northern State University; and Kim Morrow, an education major at the University of Kansas.
Of special note was the awarding of a Floyd Qualls Memorial Scholarship to Tim Cordes. A repeat winner, he is currently enrolled in medical school at the University of Wisconsin.
A few days after I returned from the convention, unpacked and caught up on sleep, I received a thank-you note from one of the winners that summarized the convention experience: "I had such a great time in Orlando. ... Encountering masses of strong, productive blind people really helped me renew my hope and focus on life. It gave me an opportunity to meet a lot of great people with similar disabilities. I hope I will be able to attend the L.A. convention next year." As ACB members, we should be proud of the encouragement and support provided to these deserving students through our scholarship program.
The 1998 scholarship winners, including Peter Ince and Bradley Kadel, top row; Heidi Pfau, Jonathan Avila, and Tiffany Wakefield, second row; and Lucille Stern and Kaye Holmberg, bottom row.
Instead of the usual banquet speaker, ACB officers, members and friends took the opportunity to send off retiring executive director Oral Miller with a bang.
After ACB President Paul Edwards introduced the head table, he introduced the surprise guest with a tape. "Oral, do you remember a few years ago when we were in China and you and I walked on the Great Wall, I in my bright yellow raincoat and your size and we were the attraction on the wall? Everybody stopped and took our picture. Do you recall that?" The voice belonged to Virginia Fouts, Oral Miller's cousin, "flown in especially like fresh lobster this afternoon," Edwards said.
Following the introduction of Fouts, Dawn Christensen presented Charles H. Crawford with the George Card Award. She thanked her committee, Ron Brooks and Elizabeth Lennon. Miller then drew the sweepstakes winner's name: Bernice Shreve of Missouri.
After dinner, Edwards presented a toast "to the high good health, to the pleasant retirement, to the future involvement, and to the continuing capacity for good humor, pleasure and joy of our retiring executive director." The second toast to Miller came from Julie Carroll. "Ladies and gentlemen, I was given the honor of toasting to ACB's victories," she said. "ACB, the organization responsible now for audible traffic signals and audible signs in federal legislation; ACB responsible for detectable warnings on platform edges to protect blind and visually impaired travelers; ACB responsible for leading the way to opening doors with Microsoft to ensure access to information for people who are blind and visually impaired; and ACB through the leadership of its outstanding affiliate, GDUI, who got access for blind people to the state of Hawaii. And we've just begun. Here's to continued health and victories of ACB!"
Immediate past president LeRoy Saunders presented another toast. "I've known Oral Miller for better than 30 years," he said. "I've worked with him in ABBA [and] ACB. We've had the opportunity of disagreement, whatever, but he's a great guy, and I'd like to say good luck to him!"
The next item on the agenda was the drawing of the quilt winner: Ken Emmons of Missouri.
After the quilt presentation, once again live on the internet, the farewell celebration began in earnest. Janiece Petersen started the celebration off by singing a song she'd written, "Climbing the Ladder of Life." Julie Carroll spoke next. "I remember one of the first things we all learn when you come to work for Oral Miller is that he has pet names for everybody, like it or not," she said. "I'm not going to run down what all of our real pet names are because some of the staff don't want those names to stick outside of the office, but we all had them, and so do our animals. ... It was kind of handy sometimes to have a pet name because what it did for me is when I actually got called by my real name by Oral I knew I was in trouble. We never really came up with a pet name for Oral, but I think somebody ought to investigate what that 'O' is for in the Oral O. Miller."
Carroll talked about Miller's open door policy, and said it was an appreciated one for the most part (except for the bluegrass music and the rooster clock). She told the audience, "Wherever Oral goes, he leaves it more accessible for the next blind person." But what the staff appreciated most was "his loyalty to his staff. He supports his staff through thick and thin, no matter what. When we were under attack ... no matter what, Oral stood by us. ... even sometimes to his own detriment." She presented him with a Beanie Baby squirrel, "because you know the thing about Beanie Babies is if they're well-preserved, they're worth a lot when they retire."
Emotions ran high as Nolan Crabb presented his tape of memories of Miller, which included some sound bites of Miller's speeches. "I guess in terms of an employee situation, I think at least in present times, I have the honor of being the member of the staff who has worked with Oral the longest, and it could be argued that I have benefitted the most from that association," Crabb said. "I will remember the job, but I will remember the personal things most of all. And I thank God there's still a few days, a few weeks left. Good luck, and God bless you."
One speech mentioned the demonstration at the Department of Transportation in San Francisco. "These tragedies underscore the urgency of the message you have heard before in many ways," Miller said. "The people who can best bring about change are you: the knowledgeable, reasonable, responsible and responsive members of the American Council of the Blind. How can you do this? By responding to the pleas, the requests, the supplications, the prayers, or whatever you want to call them, to send letters, to make phone calls, and appear in person every time you have an opportunity to share your experience."
McKinley Young talked about Miller in the community side of his life. "I want to say a word out of my friendship with Oral," he said. "I'm almost like Nolan here; this is not easy to do. We go back so far and have gone through so many things together, it's an emotional experience to come to this point where Oral is retiring. ... We the members of DCAWB join with all of your ACB friends in expressing our appreciation for the 30 years of service which you have given us." He spoke of the 17-page braille document listing Miller's accomplishments, saying that many were not listed. He referred to bowling, and told about a national tournament with the Over the Hill Gang (Miller's bowling team). The team would always win, and "we were extremely happy when we learned that Oral's workload at ACB had gotten so heavy, so hard, that Oral had to quit bowling. ... What this meant is a breakup of the Over the Hill Gang, so that gave the rest of us a chance to now and then win that tournament." He noted that "Oral has a character trait that is much greater than the sum total of all the accomplishments he's made. ... Oral extends an unusual high degree of loyalty to his friends ... and that, I think, accounts a great deal toward the many successes that he has enjoyed. ... With all sincerity, I wish for you and for Roberta the very, very best."
Next, there was a break from the "maudlin sentimentality" with a song by Michael Byington, called "Big Bad Oral." "... And although he'll still share a lot of his hot fire, every man has the right to finally retire, but Oral's mistaken if he thinks he's done. We're gonna let him get out and have some fun, but he'll still have to come back and think and consult, to keep us on the right track and get the right result, big Oral. ... In the history of blindness, Oral's one hell of a man."
Otis Stephens, past president of ACB, followed Byington. "I met Oral Miller in 1973 when he invited me to give a talk to the American Blind Lawyers Association convention ... in Knoxville, Tennessee," he said. "Oral Miller initiated many, many programs associated with the ACB ... He also supported programs that others recommended, and it was his nurturing of many of these programs that was most important in their development." He reminded his listeners that it was Miller's idea for ACB to enter the Combined Federal Campaign and other job site fund-raising campaigns, and that those campaigns had netted ACB money, sometimes just when it was needed. "His work over the years has truly been outstanding for ACB," he added. "We owe him a great deal. He is a very self-effacing person ... I can tell you that Oral Miller has made a real difference in this field over the last 20 to 25 years, and I am very pleased to have an opportunity to thank him on this occasion for all that he has done for this organization."
Listeners got a break from the speeches with a presentation of gifts by Charles Crawford on behalf of the National Council of State Agencies for the Blind. NCSAB President Jamie Hilton sent a letter honoring Miller.
Mark Richert, ACB's former director of advocacy services, presented "Lessons in Voice Mail" as taught to him by Miller. "My first week at the ACB national office, I was introduced by Oral to the voice mail system," Richert said, "and he taught me ... by example. So he left me a voice mail, and this is basically what it said. 'Hello, Marcus. I'm just leaving you this voice mail message in the hope that this will help you get a better grasp of our sort of complicated but nevertheless discernible voice mail system. Some would call it complicated, others would call it discernible; I would simply call it an exercise in futility. What I would suggest, if you're game, is to listen to this message, and if you're so inclined, to replay the message ad infinitum, ad nauseum, and perhaps by doing so you will grasp the subtleties of the system. Let me tell you some of the features, Marcus ... [BEEP!] So then of course there was message number two ..." Uproarious laughter followed. "I will say that the one thing I will remember about Oral is a great sense of humor, and I think we can all appreciate that very much."
First Vice President Brian Charlson presented certificates from Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind and several other schools, and from GDUI, a sandcast Scottish terrier. He told the story of sitting in Miller's living room with Wesley, and the two Scotties stalking him. "They started behind the chair in which I was seated, and one came around from each side of the chair, so that when my dog Wesley saw a Scottie in front of him and attempted to turn around, there was one behind him, and that left only one route of escape, and that was my lap!" Charlson said. "Eighty pounds of German shepherd tap dancing on your lap is an uncomfortable experience at best." GDUI told Miller to consider it his service dog and his watchdog.
ACB Treasurer Patricia Beattie presented Miller with a plaque on behalf of the officers, the board, and ACB members "in recognition of more than 20 years of effective leadership and dedication to the promotion of worldwide public awareness of the capabilities of blind and visually impaired persons in all aspects of life and for your inspiration to all for your far- reaching accomplishments."
Edwards began the gift presentation with a musical clue from Janiece Petersen: a Viennese waltz. He passed Miller a can, telling him to open it, taste it and tell him what it was. Vienna sausage, Miller replied. Petersen played another song, "Auld Lang Syne." Edwards passed Miller a certificate that includes travel for two to Vienna and Salzburg, Austria, two concerts in Vienna, hotel, sightseeing, and meals, leaving December 28, 1998. Pam Shaw, chair of the celebration committee honoring Oral, thanked her committee with gifts. "Oral, I can only tell you that the response to this celebration has been overwhelming," Shaw said. Her committee asked affiliates to send in letters; they responded with letters, fruit baskets, hams, guns, and more. "We had a great time, and I really do want to thank you for the example that you've been to me, for the role model that you've been. It's been a labor of love. I'm sorry for all the lies I told you, and all the secrets that I kept, but everybody was just so cooperative and so wonderful. And Oral, thank you and best wishes."
Edwards stated, "There are a lot of organizations and a lot of people who are saddened by the departure of Oral Miller to newer and greener pastures. Many of those are members of ACB. But there is a wider community who will be saddened as well. I don't think that any of us know just how widespread braille is, because braille is precious. Our 'Braille Forum,' unlike many print magazines, goes all over the world because braille is still scarce. ... And where there is 'The Braille Forum,' there's Oral Miller. ... Oral Miller also stands ... for values that we as blind people need to value more highly than anything. He stands for a person who has always done it by himself, who has always stood for independence, who has never asked for undue assistance." He said Miller had enabled him to be a better president. "It is his hard work, his supervision, his day-to-day manning of the guns, that enables ACB to survive."
LeRoy Saunders had a few words to add. "The bottom line is, I think many things are better because of Oral and what he's done for us over the years. So I'm very pleased to say that I know Oral Miller and Oral is my friend. Thank you."
"There's so many things I want to thank so many different people for," Miller said. "What a wonderful surprise to bring my cousin/older sister Virginia Fouts here tonight. ..." He thanked all staff members (current and former) for putting up with the nicknames he's bestowed upon them over the years, the current staff for all its work, and the committee for the wonderful celebration. "I have wonderful memories," he said. "Times haven't always been perfect, but it has been a pleasure ... and we have made a wonderful team. As I leave this position and go into a different relationship in connection with ACB, ... I'll be working with many of you. I'm not stepping out of the picture." He believed ACB was changing, and that there were things that needed to change; he also believed he would be in a position to change some of them. "Look at the victories that have been celebrated this week," he said, "and we've just scratched the surface on that."
He stressed that he would be in the office a while longer before entering his new role, and talked about his upcoming schedule. One of the things on it was a trip to South Africa later this fall on behalf of People to People International, "if there are enough people who agree to go." He thanked Edwards, Shaw and her committee for the trip to Vienna. "I want to thank you also for the recognition and the wonderful consideration you have given for my wife, Roberta Douglas. She has had so many people asking about her this week ... What a wonderful thing that she's able to be with us ... It's been real, it's been wonderful, and it's going to continue to be real and wonderful as we all move on together, as we all work together." Things will be changing, Miller said, as ACB gets ready for the 21st century.
"What time is it?" Edwards asked. The audience responded, "Miller Time!"
Four presidents pose for a picture. Left to right, Paul Edwards, Oral Miller, LeRoy Saunders and Otis Stephens.
Janiece Petersen plays and sings a song she wrote, "Climbing the Ladder of Life."
Mark Richert presents lessons in voice mail, to much laughter from the audience.
Oral Miller jots down a braille note while Roberta Douglas checks out the sculpture of a Scottish terrier dog. In front of Oral on the table is a Beanie Baby squirrel.
On June 25, the U.S. Supreme Court announced its decision in Bragdon v. Abbott. The case arose when Sydney Abbott went to the dental office of Randon Bragdon in Bangor, Maine, in 1994 for a routine checkup. Abbott was given a standard patient questionnaire to complete since it was her first visit to Dr. Bragdon's office. She voluntarily revealed that she was HIV- positive, though she did not have any outward symptoms of AIDS. Dr. Bragdon performed a routine checkup and discovered a cavity that needed to be filled. However, he refused to fill the cavity at his office because of his concern regarding possible transmission of the HIV virus to himself or his staff. He proposed that he would perform the indicated dental work in a hospital setting for the same fee he would charge in his office, and she would have to pay the additional cost of using the hospital's dental facilities out of her own pocket. She rejected this proposal, stating that the doctor was refusing to provide her routine dental treatment on the same basis as his other patients because of her disability, in violation of Title III of the ADA.
Abbott subsequently brought suit under Title III. The federal trial court for the district of Maine granted summary judgment to Abbott on her Title III claim, holding that even an asymptomatic HIV-infected individual is covered under the ADA. The trial court also rejected Bragdon's arguments that to have treated Abbott in his office would have been a direct threat to himself and his staff, which would be a defense to such a claim. On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit affirmed the trial court's rulings, but the Supreme Court granted full review of the case.
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy delivered the opinion for a badly split five-to-four court. The court grappled immediately with Bragdon's strongest argument that asymptomatic HIV-infected status simply does not constitute a covered disability under Title III since the condition does not meet the first prong of the statutory definition of being an impairment which substantially limits a major life activity. While struggling with this argument, Kennedy points to the definition of impairment contained in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, which indicates that conditions impairing the reproductive system are covered impairments. Kennedy then holds that even an asymptomatic HIV-infected status is ab initio an impairment which substantially limits the major life activity of reproduction. Chief Justice Rehnquist disagrees with the holding, arguing strenuously that an HIV-infected woman such as Abbott may have normal sexual intercourse, become pregnant, and bear a child albeit at some risk of transmission of the virus to her partner and to the fetus she might carry. In a separate dissent, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor argues that even if reproduction is a major life activity under the ADA, Abbott's conscientious, moral and ethical concerns have led her to make the voluntary decision not to have normal sexual relations and bear children. Thus, whatever limitation is to be found on the major life activity of reproduction is voluntary and self-imposed, and is not necessarily a substantial limitation placed upon the activity by any characteristic of the impairment itself. Kennedy merely proclaims in response that reproduction must be viewed as one of the most major life activities in any human being's life. Furthermore, he states, moral and ethical limitations of her reproductive options placed upon herself are the only proper and correct course of action for an HIV-positive individual to take. Even if voluntarily self-imposed, they still constitute a substantial limitation on reproduction. Thus the Supreme Court affirms the lower trial and appellate courts' judgments.
With respect to the affirmative defense of direct threat argued by the dentist, Kennedy says that it is not merely Bragdon's professional judgment regarding that question which counts. The court instructs the lower courts on remand to review all available medical evidence as to the risk of HIV transmission in dental office settings. Since the case was initially decided by trial court on summary judgment, and since as a consequence the record on appeal before the Supreme Court did not contain all relevant medical research evidence, the Supreme Court vacates the judgment of the First Circuit Court of Appeals on applicability of the direct threat defense and remands that question back down to the court of appeals for further proceedings. While the question of the applicability of the direct threat defense has been left open for further consideration, Bragdon will have a very hard job before him to establish such an affirmative defense within the parameters set forth in the Supreme Court's decision.
The Bragdon v. Abbott decision is another decision in which the Supreme Court has interpreted and construed the remedial provisions of the ADA broadly. As such precedents accumulate, the lower courts will be much more likely to follow the Supreme Court's lead. Such broad interpretations of the ADA cannot help but to be positive developments for disabled people covered under the law, although such interpretations might at some point result in a political backlash, which might result in restrictive amendments to the ADA being proposed and passed into law. While this decision is positive, we must be wary lest such a decision lead to unfortunate, restrictive political results in the future. Let's enjoy our good fortune now, and applaud and celebrate the Supreme Court's endorsing coverage under the ADA of asymptomatic HIV-infected individuals as covered individuals with a disability under the ADA.
During the July 5 opening ceremonies of the 37th annual national convention in Orlando, Fla., the American Council of the Blind named the recipients of awards.
Carol McCarl, chair of the board of publications, thanked ACB President Paul Edwards and welcomed delegates, guests, and members of NAPVI to the convention. McCarl also thanked the members of the board of publications: Tom Mitchell, Jay Doudna, Kim Charlson, and Mitch Pomerantz for their work. "We have this tough task of deciding which was the best article nominated, and that includes any of your articles which have appeared in 'The Braille Forum,' and there can be other articles nominated which are just sent in for the purpose of nominating someone's article for the Ned E. Freeman Award," McCarl said. "This year, the award will go to a gentleman who is known by many of us I remember interviewing that man in Lifeprints magazine in 1984 and I was so happy when I got to read ... do you remember that article 'The Elusive New Yorker'? ... Our friend who's winning the award ... is George Covington, who wrote that article ... He found out that they were awfully friendly in New York, and he never did find that rude New Yorker!"
Covington was unable to attend the convention. Speaking on tape, he said, "I'm sorry I can't be there with you tonight. I'm delighted and honored to receive the Freeman Excellence in Writing Award. I just returned a few days ago from Seoul, Korea, where I lectured on universal design to the Samsung Innovation Design School and taught photography to blind and visually impaired Koreans. It was an incredible experience. We got massive media coverage ... Thank you very much for the award. I wish I could be there tonight."
The winner of the Vernon Henley Memorial Award was Kyle E. McHugh, who submitted "A Hand in the Darkness," a chapter she'd written for a book recently produced. The chapter tells the story of how she, with the help of her mother, learned to cope with her blindness from diabetic retinopathy. The book is called "A Mother's World: Journeys of the Heart." McHugh was also unable to attend the convention; she too sent a tape. "I wish to thank you all very much for this great honor and I'm sorry I won't be there to share in the joy of accepting it in person. When I became blind 17 years ago due to diabetic retinopathy, after my initial recovery and rehabilitation and returned self- esteem, I never doubted my ability to do anything simply because I was blind. And I have found that attitude replicated in the ACB. I think all of you wouldn't be here at the convention or be members of ACB in the first place if you didn't believe in yourselves and our ability to accomplish things. ... Again, I want to thank you for the honor of the Vernon Henley Award. It means a great deal to me, and if I were there I'd like to shake each one of your hands and thank you in person. But since I can't, I'll simply say thank you again, and I wish you a marvelous convention."
At the banquet Friday night, awards committee chairman Dawn Christensen presented the George Card Award to "a leader, an advocate, someone that we should all follow the path of. ... In reading the letter of nomination, I thought to myself, 'Wow, this guy's ... got to be all business, not someone who would have much fun.' But I was really wrong. Great guy, lots of fun. And it let me examine myself. What am I doing wrong that I can't accomplish all that he has accomplished in his life?"
The winner, Charles H. Crawford, was a founder of the Bay State Council of the Blind, the author of its first constitution, and has been a director of the Massachusetts Client Assistance Program. In 1984, Michael Dukakis appointed him as commissioner of the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind, where he still is today.
"Thank you so much," Crawford said. "All I want to say is that this is not my award; this is our award. I believe sincerely that I have not done anything in my life more important than to share with other blind people that dream we all have of moving forward as a community and making sure that we have equality and then giving back to everyone else. So you have given me everything that I deserve more so than any award. I must say thank you. ... We are one community, and we will succeed."
Dawn Christensen, chair of the awards committee, presents the George Card Award to Charles Crawford.
GEORGIA COUNCIL CONVENTION
The 42nd annual convention of the Georgia Council of the Blind was held August 6-9 at the Holiday Inn Center City in Columbus. This year's theme was "On the Road to Advocacy." The banquet speaker was Alfred Ducharme, ACB's director of governmental affairs, who discussed the concept of lobbying and current legislation affecting blind and visually impaired people. The various speakers represented RSVA of Georgia, Georgia Industries for the Blind, AFB Southeast, the Division of Rehabilitation Services, the statewide independent living council, the talking book library system, and a reopened rehabilitation agency. Three focus groups met concurrently to develop plans of action for GCB to follow to help resolve some pending issues: vendors, GIB employees, and aid to the senior blind.
Social activities included a wine and cheese reception, a talent show and an auction. The winner of the $500 raffle was Allen Anderson of Chicago, Ill.
New officers are: Jack Lewis, president; James Nobles, first vice president; Marsha Farrow, second vice president; Dorothy Pickett, secretary; June Willis, treasurer; and Geraldine Coursey, board member-at-large.
ACB QUILT HITS THE ROAD
The Missouri Council of the Blind, which won the ACB quilt at the convention in Orlando, has enjoyed sharing it with blind, low vision and sighted people across the state. One of the places it has been is the Kansas City Technology Fair. Jerry Annunzio reported that the quilt attracted quite a crowd. The next showing was in St. Louis, and the same thing happened. In September it went to Springfield to meet with one of the newest local chapters; this month it will be in Joplin for the state convention.
MARYLAND VENDORS REORGANIZE
The Randolph-Sheppard Vendors of Maryland recently held a meeting to reorganize the chapter. New officers are: Ed Naff, president; Joe Byard, vice president; Ralph Sanders, secretary; and Jean Sanders, treasurer. New board members are Don Glover, George Abbott and Marvin Levy.
NEWS FROM MARYLAND
The ACB of Maryland convention was held at the Days Inn in Towson Oct. 2-4. Attendees participated in panel discussions on transportation, access to the voting process, and getting on the internet.
The 1998 state convention of the ACB of Ohio will be held Friday, October 30, through Sunday, November 1 at the Holiday Inn on the Lane in Columbus. This year's theme is "Keeping in Touch." The convention will feature workshops, seminars and exhibits aimed at enlightening, empowering and educating blind and visually impaired people. Communicating on many different levels will be one of the topics. Another topic will be enhancing lives through using technology. Rooms at the Holiday Inn on the Lane are $66 per night plus tax for single, double or triple occupancy. For more information, call Ken Morlock at (614) 221-6688.
NEWS FROM THE NATION'S CAPITAL
The District of Columbia Association of Workers for the Blind, soon to become the District of Columbia Council of the Blind, will hold its annual convention Saturday, November 7, at the Holiday Inn Capital, 550 C St. SW in Washington, D.C. Among other subjects, the program will include a legislative update, improving services to blind and visually impaired university students and how to insure privacy and dignity for blind persons when shopping, reading personal mail and keeping medical appointments. For additional information, contact Jim Doherty by phone at (202) 232-3545 or e-mail at [email protected]
The announcement of new products and services in this column should not be considered an endorsement of those products and services by the American Council of the Blind, its staff or elected officials. Products and services are listed free of charge for the benefit of our readers. "The Braille Forum" cannot be responsible for the reliability of products or services mentioned.
The South Carolina Commission for the Blind is accepting applications for the position of commissioner. The commissioner reports to and serves at the will and pleasure of the board of directors. He/she is responsible for all aspects of operating the agency. Duties include planning, developing, and implementing policies and procedures to achieve the agency's mission as directed by the board. The commissioner is responsible for ensuring that the agency complies with all applicable state and federal regulations.
The job requires a minimum of two years management experience, as well as at least a bachelor's degree. Experience in rehabilitation is desirable; a master's degree is preferred. Send your cover letter, resume, and a list of three professional references to: Ernestine Middleton, Executive Recruiter, State Career Center, 2221 Devine St., Suite 100, Columbia, SC 29205. Send them by October 16.
The American Foundation for the Blind is currently seeking nominations for its 1999 Access Awards. These awards honor individuals, corporations and organizations who have made a significant contribution to guaranteeing equality of access and opportunity to ensure freedom of choice for blind people. Nominations should illustrate an exceptional and innovative effort that has improved the lives of blind people by enhancing access to information, the environment, education, employment, independent living services, or technology, including making mainstream products and services accessible. The effort should be one that has a national impact or can be a model for replication on a national level.
Nominations in print, braille, on tape or via e-mail, which address the above criteria, should be sent to: American Foundation for the Blind 1999 Access Awards Committee, Attention Judy Scott, AFB Southwest, 260 Treadway Plaza, Exchange Park, Dallas, TX 75235; e- mail [email protected] Nominations must be received no later than October 23.
Sierra Regional Ski For Light, a cross-country ski program, will be holding its seventh annual event March 6-8, 1999 at Tahoe Donner Cross-Country Ski Resort in Truckee, Calif. The program consists of one-on-one instruction and guiding of blind and visually impaired skiers by experienced sighted skiers. If you've never skied before, you will receive training in the techniques of cross- country skiing. Daytime hours will be filled with skiing; evenings boast social events. The total cost is $160 for those who need to rent skis and $135 for those who have their own skis. It includes double-occupancy room for two nights at the Best Western Tahoe Truckee Inn, two breakfasts, two dinners, trail passes, equipment rental, and registration. Single room occupancy is available for $75 more. Ground transportation between Sacramento and Truckee will be provided.
For out-of-town participants, rooms will be reserved at La Quinta Inn for March 5. If you need a room there, it will cost you $30 (double occupancy) extra. You are free to make your own lodging arrangements for March 5.
To obtain an application, contact Sierra Regional Ski For Light, Betsy Rowell, VIP Application Coordinator, 9608 Mira Del Rio Dr., Sacramento, CA 95827; phone (916) 362-5557, or e-mail [email protected] Completed applications, along with a $25 deposit, must be returned by December 1.
There's a new braille writer repair service available. It's called Braillewriter Cleaning & Repair Service, and it's based in Cincinnati, run by Bernadette Dressell. The address is 2714 Ruberg Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45211-8118; phone (513) 481-7662. All parts are currently in stock; the company can usually guarantee a two- week turnaround time. Call or write for price quotes.
There's a new free service for the blind and visually impaired of Tulsa. Via a telephone number, you can dial up the Tulsa Newsletter for the Blind. Dial (918) 627-8867, listen to the table of contents, make your selection, and enjoy. The newsletter offers several options giving detailed information about support groups, local chapter information, and an alphabetical listing of other organizations, associations, businesses and individuals in support of the needs of the blind. There is even a section on jobs for the blind, with job listings provided by Key Personnel of Tulsa. Information is updated regularly.
The Clovernook Center for the Blind has a job opening available for a network administrator. This person develops, maintains and troubleshoots Clovernook's computer network and voice communication systems; selects and maintains software applications to maximize utilization of the center's computer resources and provide computer solutions to Clovernook's business needs; and assists in installing and maintaining adaptive technology. He/she will be responsible for all networked hardware and software; communicating user training needs to senior management; develops/secures training for new employees and training for job enhancement for existing employees; reviews new and upgraded applications and advises on their usefulness to Clovernook; and for administering the IS capital budget and the systems support and training budget. The job requires five years of experience in maintaining a personal computer network and demonstrated knowledge of word processing, data base and business applications. Interested individuals should contact Michael Walsh, Vice President of Human Resources, Clovernook Center for the Blind, 7000 Hamilton Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45231; phone (513) 522-3860.
PHONE BILLS IN BRAILLE
Customers of Bell Atlantic-Delaware can now receive their phone bills in braille. If you wish to get your phone bill in braille, contact your local Bell Atlantic business office. Later this year, the company plans to offer bills in large print.
In addition, the company recently pledged to become the first local telephone company in the continental United States to provide 7-1-1 service for deaf and hard of hearing customers throughout its service area. This service, when it becomes available, will enable those customers to dial only three digits to send text messages over regular phone lines using the telecommunications relay service.
ACB CONVENTION TAPES
Tapes of the ACB 1998 national convention in Orlando are now available. The full set includes tapes of the general sessions, the diabetes seminar, the legislative seminar, and the banquet, and costs $25. Separate sessions may be ordered; each session costs $5. The full set consists of 21 tapes. For more information, or to order, call (800) 424-8666 between 2:30 and 5:30 p.m. Eastern, or send your check made payable to ACB to the national office, 1155 15th St. NW, Suite 720, Washington, DC 20005.
Recordings of the 1998 convention program of the Visually Impaired Data Processors International are now available for purchase. Tapes include the computer seminar, a report from Microsoft, the VIDPI business meeting, and other interesting and educational presentations. The program tapes cost $10. Send your order to Robert A. Jones, 348-9 Silver Creek Cir., Jacksonville, FL 32216- 1973; phone (904) 721-2389.
MSMT Braille Center, a division of Goodwill Industries, has moved. The new address is 651 Yolanda Ave., Santa Rosa, CA 95404.NEW $20 BILL
The U.S. Treasury and Federal Reserve started issuing the new $20 bill on Sept. 24. This bill is the first in the 1996 notes series to incorporate a machine-readable capability for the blind. The portrait of Andrew Jackson is much larger, and the number "20" is larger and darker on a light background. All existing notes will continue to be legal tender. For more information about the new $20 bill, use Treasury's interactive fax, (202) 622-2040, and request document 2463. Or visit the web site
The Braille Revival League of Alabama has the 1998 NCAA college football schedule available in braille. Each copy costs $10. The schedule contains the schedules of 128 teams plus the results of the 1997-98 bowls and the 1998-99 bowl schedule. Send orders to Allen H. Gillis, 302 Schaeffel Rd., Cullman, AL 35055; phone (256) 734-4047, or e-mail [email protected]
POETRY CONTEST WINNERS
The results from the Tennessee poetry contest are in, and the winners are: first place, Denise Hughes, "Forgiveness"; second place, Liz Conejo, "To Guide Dogs Everywhere"; and third place, Martin Mahler, "My Telescopic 'Eye.'"
Top Dot Enterprises publishes "Sound Computing," a bimonthly magazine on adaptive technology, computers and the Internet for blind users. Each issue features recommendations of web sites and software, information about new products, mini-tutorials and reviews by computer users. Subscriptions are $24 a year for the cassette edition and $19 for the Real Audio version, available for listening or download via the Internet. Back issues or sample copies of the cassette version are $4 each.
Top Dot also sells recorded computer tutorials, including Top Word 97, Top Eudora 4 (which also teaches the earlier versions), and Top Real Internet Explorer 3.02 (teaching Internet Explorer and RealPlayer 5.0). Ask about new titles available or soon to come. Tutorials cost $19.50 each, plus a per-order charge of $5.
For information about "Sound Computing" or Top Dot tutorials, call (425) 335-4894; write Top Dot Enterprises at 8930 11th Pl. SE, Everett, WA 98205; e-mail [email protected] or visit the web site
The American Foundation for the Blind recently announced the winners of the M.C. Migel Medal. They are: Virginia Smith Boyce, retired executive director of the National Society to Prevent Blindness; Michael M. Maney, a partner in the law firm of Sullivan & Cromwell and former chairperson of the American Foundation for the Blind; and Samuel M. Genensky, founder of the Center for the Partially Sighted in Santa Monica, Calif. Boyce received the Professional Award; Maney received the Volunteer Award. Genensky will receive his award in February.
Boyce served as executive director of the NSPB from 1972 to 1982, and held several other executive staff positions over the previous 35 years. Among her achievements were the design and promotion of a home eye test for preschoolers, development of the first glaucoma screening and educational program in the United States, initiation of a campaign to alert the nation to diabetic retinopathy, and leadership in public education campaigns to reduce eye injuries in sports, in schools and at work.
Maney was chair of the AFB board from 1990 through 1997. He has also served as a law clerk to Justice John M. Harlan in the U.S. Supreme Court. From 1957-1961, he served with the Central Intelligence Agency. He holds a bachelor's degree from Yale University, a master's degree from Tufts University, and an LL.B. from the University of Pennsylvania.
37 NEW BOOKS
Seedlings Braille Books for Children has 37 new books available in its 1999 catalog, which is now available. Included in those titles are "Clifford's Furry Friends," "Frosty the Snowman," "Arthur's Pet Business," "Julie of the Wolves," "A Wrinkle in Time," and many more. For your catalog, call (800) 777-8552, or write to Seedlings, PO Box 51924, Livonia, MI 48151-5924, or e-mail [email protected] For more information on the new books, check out the web site
ALVA Access Group, Inc. recently released outSPOKEN Solo and Ensemble 2.0. Both work with Windows 95 and 98. Solo is the version for speech users only; Ensemble is for speech and/or braille users. Both versions have been optimized for use with Microsoft Office, WordPerfect Suite 8, Navigator 3 and 4.0, Internet Explorer 3 and 4.0, Novell GroupWise and Quicken 98. It is compatible with a wide variety of speech synthesizers, sound cards and braille displays, including Accent, Artic, Braille 'n Speak, DECtalk, Keynote, Sounding Board and many more. The Solo version costs $695; the Ensemble version, $795. For an additional $100 outSPOKEN Solo and Ensemble 2.0 are bundled with Pulse Data, Keynote Gold speech synthesizer. Site licenses are available; pricing is based on the number of seats. For more information, visit the web site or call (510) 923-6280 (TDD users call (510) 923-6286).
NEWS FROM AFB
The American Foundation for the Blind Press recently published "Teachers Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired," which was written by Deborah Kendrick. This book is the first in the Jobs That Matter series, and it profiles 18 people who have successfully fulfilled their dreams of teaching. It comes in print (ISBN 0-89128-306-4, paperback), braille (ISBN 0-89128-322-6), and on tape (ISBN 0- 89128-321-8). All formats are $19.95 each plus $5 shipping. To order, or to get more information, call (800) 232-3044. Orders must be accompanied by payment (for individuals) or institutional purchase orders, and may be sent to AFB Press, PO Box 1020, Sewickley, PA 15143-1020.
Another recent publication is a book and video set on aging and vision loss, called "Issues in Aging and Vision: A Curriculum for University Programs and In-Service Training," and the video "Profiles in Aging and Vision" by Alberta L. Orr, chair of AFB's National Aging Program. It's a seven-module curriculum designed for university programs in gerontology or related areas and organizations that serve older people. The book is a paperback, ISBN 0-89128-947-X, and costs $27.95 plus $5 shipping and handling. The video comes in VHS (ISBN 0-89128-948-8) and PAL (ISBN 0-89128- 320-X); and costs $34.95 plus $5 shipping and handling. For information, or to order, call AFB Press at the number above, or write the address listed above.
The AFB Press also has a new vice president, Frank B. Cermak. Cermak served as president of Barton & Brett Publishers, Inc., a trade publisher, and as an independent consultant to firms in the publishing industry.
The Dallas Lighthouse recently opened an adaptive equipment store that offers products that can help blind or visually impaired people maintain their independence. The store is called The Beacon, and it sells such items as check-writing guides, talking watches, talking thermometers, adaptive kitchen equipment and braille devices. The store will serve two purposes: one, to provide a store where blind and visually impaired people can view, try out and buy adaptive equipment and independent living aids; and two, to provide retail training opportunities for Lighthouse students in the On-the-Job Training program. The store's hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, call (214) 821-2375.
The Canadian Foundation for Aniridia Research is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising public awareness of aniridia and its associated conditions. Originally started in Canada, CFAR now has members from many other countries, including the United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. The organization has a U.S. contact, Liz Dennis. It provides support to the community through a quarterly newsletter, informational fliers, a web site, and weekly chats. To contact the organization, write to CFAR, 3780 Verdun Ave., Suite 2, Montreal, Quebec H4G 1K6, Canada. Phone (514) 761-5998; e-mail [email protected] or visit the web site U.S. contact Liz Dennis may be reached at (770) 631-9333 or via e- mail, [email protected]
At the reception for life members and guests held at the president's suite at the 1997 ACB annual convention in Houston, it was reported that with the life membership plaques awarded there, the number of ACB life members had grown to 80. Many of the life members at the reception challenged the gathering to encourage others to become life members so that at the 1998 ACB convention to be held in Orlando, Fla., the number of life members would have reached at least the century mark of 100. This was a stiff challenge requiring 20 new ACB life members within the next year, when only 13 new life members had joined the honor roll in the preceding year.
The challenge, however, got off to an encouraging beginning when shortly after the Houston convention an anonymous donor came forward and purchased an ACB life membership on behalf of Arnold Auch of Sioux Falls, S.D. The donor indicated that when he had been a young student at the Perkins School for the Blind, Auch had served as a houseparent and teacher, and that he was an excellent and inspirational role model of a successful blind professional as well as becoming a life-long mentor, counselor and friend. Arnold Auch, who incidentally has been a pillar of strength and leadership in ACB's South Dakota affiliate for over half a century, was presented with his life membership plaque at the Saturday banquet at the annual South Dakota Association of the Blind held at Pierre, S.D. on September 6, 1997.
A number of loving and devoted spouses and one family purchased ACB life memberships during the past year in honor of beloved family members. For example, Kathleen Warth of Clearwater, Fla. was presented with an ACB life membership by her husband Jim; Nancy Scheigert of Vero Beach, Fla. was presented with a life membership by her husband Fred; Brun "Dan" Platt of Omaha, Neb. was presented with an ACB life membership by his wife Kristal, who is an outgoing ACB board member; and Anna Olsen of Richfield, Minn. was presented with an ACB life membership by her devoted husband Jim and the entire Olsen family.
In addition, a number of thoughtful and dedicated individuals stepped forward during the year and the Orlando convention to demonstrate their faith and commitment to ACB by purchasing ACB life memberships in their own names. These people were: H. Kirkland Osoinach of Cross Village, Mich.; Michael Richman of Burlington, Vt.; Wanda Eller of Tulsa, Okla.; George Burkman of Denver, Colo., and D. Alfred Ducharme of Arlington, Va., ACB's recently appointed director of governmental affairs.
Also, following the pattern of example established in early years, several ACB state and/or special-interest affiliates and their local chapters stepped forward to honor their cherished and dedicated members by purchasing life memberships for them. For example, the Alaska Independent Blind so honored its current president, Lynne Koral of Anchorage; Missouri Council of the Blind followed suit by honoring its long-time dedicated member, Beryl Masters of Kansas City, Mo.; Washington Council of the Blind, not to be outdone, honored its dedicated member who has tirelessly answered its 800 telephone line for many years, Marilyn Donnelly of Seattle; and Friends-in-Art of ACB honored one of its founding members, Janiece Petersen of Washington, D.C. In addition, two local chapters got into the parade of glory. The Commonwealth Council of the Blind, the central Virginia chapter of the Old Dominion Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired, honored Mamie King of Richmond, one of its most respected and stalwart members; and the Long Island chapter of the ACB of New York honored Evelyn Larson of Brooklyn, one of its most notable and dedicated members. All of these state and special-interest affiliates as well as local chapters are entitled to much praise for their thoughtfulness in so honoring their members who have contributed so much in their own ways over so many years.
This year's list of new ACB life members is concluded by a very special group of life memberships which were purchased by ACB's wholly owned subsidiary, the American Council of the Blind Enterprises and Services, and by ACB itself. ACBES purchased a life membership in order to pay a very special honor and tribute to its long-time dedicated executive director and ACB assistant treasurer, Jim Olsen of Richfield, Minn. ACB paid a very special honor to one of its visitors from abroad who was present at the Orlando convention by presenting a life membership plaque to Dr. Wen-Shiong Tsung of Taipei, Taiwan. ACB also honored Roberta Douglas of Washington, D.C., former ACB staff employee and wife of its retiring executive director. Finally, ACB paid Oral O. Miller of Washington, D.C., ACB's outgoing executive director, a very special honor by presenting him with his very own life membership plaque.
If you have been keeping careful count, you know that precisely 20 new ACB life members were added to the honor roll of life members within the past year, just meeting our challenge and leaving the life membership roll at 100 as we begin a new recruitment year. I hope that dedicated individuals, devoted and loving spouses and family members, state and special-interest affiliates and their local chapters, ACB and ACBES themselves, and all other interested ACB members and friends will take inspiration from the examples set forth above, and I encourage such parties to take similar actions and join the ever-growing honor roll of ACB life members. You can bring great honor and distinction to yourselves, your loved ones and family members, and your dedicated and worthy members by doing so. I am looking forward with great pride to another bumper crop of new ACB life members at the 1999 ACB convention in Los Angeles, Calif., and I want to extend my heartfelt congratulations to all of this year's new life members. Welcome to this very special honors club.
Wanda Eller of Tulsa, Okla. accepts her life membership with a smile.
Paul Edwards presents Janiece Petersen with a life membership plaque.
Kirk Osoinach showed his appreciation of ACB by purchasing a life membership.
Paul Edwards gives Lynne Koral a microphone and a life membership plaque. The Alaska Independent Blind honored her by purchasing a life membership for her.
Beryl Masters expresses his appreciation to the Missouri Council of the Blind for his life membership. Paul Edwards holds the microphone while Jim Olsen searches for the next honoree's plaque.
Dr. Wen-Shiong Tsung of Taipei, Taiwan addresses a small group of ACB members.
FOR SALE: Holy Bible tapes, $50. Glucometer, $175. Tandem bike, $500. Contact Judy at (504) 273-3673.
FOR SALE: One-year-old Braille 'n Speak, never used. Includes instruction manuals in braille and print, power supply, cassettes and diskettes. $1,050 or best offer plus shipping. Contact Rosie Lewis at (208) 529-2770, or write her at 1275 Blaine, Idaho Falls, ID 83402. No collect calls and no personal checks.
FOR SALE: Perkins brailler. In excellent condition; hardly used. $400 or best offer. Call Gwen Revis at (440) 942-0330, or write her at 1332 Hulett Ave., Eastlake, OH 44095.
FOR SALE: Keynote Gold Windows compatible voice system for notebook computers. $950 or best offer. Contact Gary Davis, 177 Lake Eden Rd., Black Mountain, NC 28711; phone (828) 686-9180.
FOR SALE: Smartview CCTV. 16 months old. $2,000 or best offer. Call Melissa at (904) 786-3670.
FOR SALE: 486 computer scanner. Comes with Open Book, WordPerfect, Duxbury, and database software. Best offer. Contact Solomon in the afternoons at (727) 934-2087, evenings and weekends at (727) 938-6692.
FOR SALE: Single-sided Porta-Thiel embosser, capable of printing on narrow and wide paper. Has printed less than 100 pages. $1,500 or best offer. Call Richard Brown at (602) 933-1969.
FOR SALE: Braille Lite 18. Four years old; well cared for. It has July 1995 revision; needs battery replacement. Comes with leather carrying case, charger and serial cables. Asking $2,200 (negotiable). Contact Shawn Cox at (757) 487-8363 or e-mail [email protected]
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